Wandering Witch - The Journey of Elaina
Episode 5

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Wandering Witch - The Journey of Elaina ?

Man, talk about whiplash. With anthology series there's almost always going to be variance in tone and energy, but Wandering Witch seems to be testing just how abruptly a show can shift gears without totally blowing out the transmission. After two weeks of absolute bummer endings of questionable efficacy, this week Elaina makes a pit stop into Royal Celesteria, a city brimming with magic users and even hosting a magic academy, where she promptly meets a pack of students now being instructed by her old teacher Fran. What follows is a remarkably laidback “adventure” where Elaina catches up with her mentor, gives some advice to the struggling kids, seduces her second magic pupil of the series, and then peaces out having had an altogether conflict-devoid nice time.

It's...odd. Sure it's nice to not have some dark twist with horrific implications dropped on us, but after the preceding three stories, I was kind of primed for another shoe to drop. Like it turns out the street magicians are a front for a magic mafia, or the kids are all being trained to become magic soldiers in some international war. But nope, these Hogwarts-looking dweebs are just studying to eventually enter the workforce, same as any other high schoolers, and after some light reminiscing they and Fran see Elaina off with an adorable parade of enchanted Flower-Butterflies. The closest thing to an actual conflict is in the early minutes when Fran secretly instructs the kids to recruit Elaina “by force” only for her to literally fly circles around them. Which is definitely fun, and certainly sated my desire for some more whimsical magical antics, but it also means this episode feels a bit too light by the end.

Maybe that's by design. While Elaina's tales are told out of chronological order, we the audience have spent the last couple of weeks stewing on, let's say “troubling” conclusions to stories, so having something silly and reaffirming is probably a good move. And the episode has quite a few really funny moments: from Elaina breaking the fourth wall to deny Anime Draco's bishie sparkles, to the punchline that Fran's long-discarded manuscript got turned into a best-seller overseas and she's now got her likeness on everything from statues to Fantasy Funko Pops. Unfortunately the new characters are just kind of background fodder, barely distinguishable by their stock personalities and only minimally existing outside of the background. That's not all that big of a deal since Elaina and Fran's rapport is both established and pretty fun, but it also contributes to this episode feeling underwhelming, especially as the four students with actual speaking roles bid our heroine a fond farewell like it's supposed to mean anything.

That's more or less all that leaves an impression besides the continuously stellar production and backgrounds. It's fun. It's chill. But without a stronger personality from the ensemble or a more concrete conflict there's just not much to dwell on. It's interesting that Fran is hinted to be the apprentice of Nike, the Witch whose tales inspired Elaina's journey to begin with, but otherwise we don't see anything new from our established cast. Altogether it's certainly less thorny than the last few weeks, but I'm still waiting for a return of the balance between charm and impact those first couple of stories managed.

Rating:

Wandering Witch - The Journey of Elaina is currently streaming on Funimation.


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